February 19, 2022

Conservatives seem to be trying to cast a wide net when it comes to demonizing and othering LGBTQ+ people, just in time for midterms. We’ve continued to cover a number of anti-trans bills pushed by conservatives across the map, including those that have been signed into law by Republican governors. Another anti-LGBTQ+ effort comes down to what books are allowed in public schools and libraries, and (sadly) big conservative money has been trickling down into local school boards to really add fuel to this outrageous fire.

Luckily, students aren’t willing to let this fight go. Two students in Missouri, for example, recently sued a St. Louis school district over its call to remove eight books from school libraries, including Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, as reported by local outlet KCRG.

In this case, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Missouri is representing the students in the suit against the Wentzville School District. The students aren’t named because they are minors, but the suit is a class-action effort that alleges the books have been removed because they involve people of color and/or people who are LGBTQ+. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri this week.

Though we’ve seen reports of books being pulled for review (and calls to have books be not only banned but even burned), the director of advocacy for ACLU of Missouri, Tony Rothert, says this lawsuit is the first of its kind in recent months.

In a statement, Rothert explained that this instance isn’t “just any old book banning,” but that Wentzville instead “targeted and removed” books from the perspective and point of view of “racial or sexual minorities.”

For those curious about how The Bluest Eye was actually removed, it seems the school board voted to remove it last month at a meeting. Morrison’s book was removed from libraries and other books were pulled temporarily to be reviewed. This discussion came up because people filed complaints, which is part of why Rothert says this is a problem. Books are removed from library circulation while they’re reviewed, so theoretically, people could just target books in complaints and have them pulled at will.

A spokesperson for the district confirmed they’re aware of the suit, but the district has not issued a formal statement. According to local outlet KOMU, the board voted to remove Morrison’s classic because of its depictions of rape, incest, violence, and sex. 

Other books pulled from the shelves for review include Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic Paperback by Alison Bechdel; All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson; Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon; Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison; Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero; Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari; and Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell.

In short: Books by or about LGBTQ+ people and/or people of color. It’s so transparent it would be laughable if this wasn’t actually impacting people’s real lives.

Republished with permission from Daily Kos.

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